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The devil in microfinance

The devil in microfinance
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First Published: Mon, Apr 05 2010. 09 21 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Apr 05 2010. 09 21 PM IST
This refers to your editorial titled “The business of microfinance” (Mint, 29 March). I am quite honestly appalled at the blatant attempt of the anonymous author to align “the business of microfinance” more with the Banco Compartamos model rather than the Grameen Bank model. If making “..fortunes charging rates in excess of 85%” is the business objective, then why hide under the garb of a microfinance institution? Why don’t they honestly call themselves “blade companies” (or dubious financial institutions)? It appears microfinance is being defined by the process rather than the objective, and microfinance institutions are going about justifying their high rates of interest citing return on investment and so on. What a pity.
— Sridhar Kalyan
This refers to the Capital Account column titled “Risk has shifted to the developed world” (Mint, 24 March). The column talks about the shifting of risks to developed markets and apparent bias exhibited by the rating agencies towards emerging economies.
This is a very well-written and analysed article.
It is worth pointing out that Iceland, which enjoyed a sovereign rating of AA from Standard and Poor’s, nearly defaulted on its sovereign debts. Major banks such as Landsbanki have defaulted on their obligations, whereas institutions in Turkey, India and other emerging economies have performed remarkably well through the crisis.
Further, till the day of its default, Lehman Brothers maintained an AA rating.
— Nikhil Harlalka
This refers to your editorial “The politics of religious quotas” (Mint, 26 March). Reservation on the basis of caste and religion is not only undemocratic but is also used to hide their ineffectiveness and distract people from core issues such as development and inflation. If they actually want to help, they should work at the grass-roots level in society.
Backwardness in India has no connection with religion, and I support and demand economic reservation in every field, because this way we will be able to help every poor and needy Indian.
At the time of Independence, our country was divided on the basis of religion and later on the basis of language while forming states. The “divide and rule” policy was adopted and implemented by all political parties. My appeal to the political parties and people of India is to stop dividing this country on the basis of caste, region and religion, and come together for the progress and betterment of India.
— Manish Thakur
This refers to your opinion article “The US in a Pakistani maze” (Mint, 30 March). I found the article highly interesting, mainly because of the fact that it was based on three of the most important countries of the world: India, the US and Pakistan. I would like to share some views:
1. It feels a little awkward for an average reader to know the exact number of defence weapons that are being supplied to India. For example, the number of Cobra helicopters can be 20 or 200, it really does not matter. The unfortunate point is that despite such clarity on Pakistan’s evil intentions, it is still being supplied with weapons.
The world must identify the nation for what it is and take steps so that it becomes impossible for it to promote terrorism again.
2. Making the line of control irrelevant: I am a strong believer of boundaries. There cannot be peace without proper bifurcation. Neutrality may be a peaceful solution for Jammu and Kashmir. It can act as a tourist country like Singapore.
3. Nuclear energy to Pakistan must be restricted or completely aborted, if possible. This would only be in the best interest of everyone.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, it may always seek help, but it would have to make strong promises and live up to them.
The above points only imply a simple fact: vital Indian interests cannot be taken for granted.
— Anupam Garg
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First Published: Mon, Apr 05 2010. 09 21 PM IST